Who says getting mad on the internet doesn’t solve any problems? After several days of outrage that, once again, Warner Bros. planned to can a fully finished movie — the James Gunn-produced, John Cena-starring Coyote vs. Acme — for a $30 million tax write-off, the studio and its boss David Zaslav seem to have reversed course.
Instead of the planned tax-based binning, Coyote vs. Acme will instead be shopped around to other distributors meaning someone else can buy it and release it in some format, either streaming or theatrical, according to The Wrap.
Previously, the WB line was: “With this new direction, we have made the difficult decision not to move forward with ‘Coyote vs. Acme.’ We have tremendous respect for the filmmakers, casts, and crew, and are grateful for their contributions to the film.”
But “not moving forward” meant deleting an entirely finished project, not canceling some sort of conceptual pitch. This led to mass outrage in the immediate resolution of the SAG-AFTRA strike which was meant, in part, to prevent against abusive studio behavior like this, albeit this exact kind of thing is not spelled out in the new WGA/SGA contracts, it seems.
This happened before with WB for Batgirl, a DC movie that was finished and then scrapped for the write-off, but the line back then was that it was because it was bad and would damage the already struggling DC brand. This time, however, early test audiences and those who had seen it had nothing but praise for Coyote vs. Acme, and it felt like even more of a balance sheet shuffle than before.
The math WB must have done here is calculating what a $30 million tax write-off may cost in the larger picture when actors, directors, writers and so on no longer want to work with WB lest their projects, even finished ones, be shelved just to save a few bucks if some decision is made they may not earn their keep. Of course WB is not the only place doing this, as we’ve seen this kind of penny pinching from Disney Plus, killing a few series that had been completed but not yet aired like the Spiderwick Chronicles.
The more cynical answer here is that now that WB has cast all this attention on Coyote vs Acme (which, I’ll be honest, I had never heard of before this) is that they can sell it for a higher price, more than they could have if none of this had happened at all, as now it has much more visibility wherever it lands. “What is this movie WB wanted dead so badly?” viewers may say. Something like that. Though honestly I’m way more curious to see what on earth Batgirl was like.
We’ll see where Coyote vs. Acme lands soon hopefully, and if WB is actually done doing this kind of thing.